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Friday, February 19, 2010

Magical swords

- by Howard Pyle

I'm reading (listening to) over again The Magician: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott. This is the second book in a fantasy series and many of the characters are immortal versions of past real people .... the good guys are the alchemist Nicholas Flamel and the legendary Celtic female warrior Scáthach, staying in Paris with teenage twins from San Francisco named Josh and Sophie, at the house of the Count of St. Germain and his wife, Joan of Arc (yep, she escaped the pyre). The evil ones, John Dee and Niccolò Machiavelli, are hot on their trail. I've reached the point in the story where Nicholas discribes famous magical swords ... Excalibur, Clarent, Joyeuse, Curtana, and Durendal, among others. Some of these are well known, like Excalibur (and Clarent, which Mordred used to kill Arthur), but I thought I'd mention the three others, which are connected.

Joyeuse was the sword of Charlemagne, and is mentioned in The Song of Roland. It supposedly holds the Spear of Destiny within its pommel, and now lives at the Louvre ....

Another sword mentioned in that poem is Durendal...

Durendal ... is the sword of Charlemagne's paladin Roland .... In The Song of Roland, the sword is said to contain within its golden hilt one tooth of Saint Peter, blood of Saint Basil, hair of Saint Denis, and a piece of the raiment of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the poem, Count Roland attempts to destroy the sword to prevent it from being captured by the ambushing Saracens and creates La Brèche de Roland in the Pyrenees in the process. But Durendal proves indestructible, so he hides it beneath his body along with the oliphant, the horn used to alert Charlemagne.

- The death of Roland at the Battle of Roncevaux, from an illuminated manuscript c.1455–1460

And another was Curtana, said to belong to Ogier the Dane, a friend (eventually) of Charlemagne's who's also portrayed in The Song of Roland. The sword supposedly bore the inscription "My name is Cortana, of the same steel and temper as Joyeuse and Durendal."

- H.P. Pedersen-Dan's statue of Ogier/Holger Danske at Kronborg castle, Denmark

I recommend the The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series by Michael Scott - fun with lots of mythology, magic, and history. You can read about other mythical objects here at Wikipedia.


Blogger Liam said...

I'm glad to hear those books are good. I might check one out -- it's officially Young Adult Fiction, right?

Nice post on legendary objects as well. It's interesting the aura they develop. I'll have to remember to check out Charlemagne's sword next time I have a chance to go to Paris. I saw El Cid's in Madrid.

9:19 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Liam,

Yes, they're young adult - so, maybe like Harry Potter, which I've only read one of.

El Cid's sword - cool. Did they let Charleton Heston use it in the movie? :)

1:01 PM  
Blogger Liam said...

Perhaps. He probably kept asking for a handgun.

If they're a fourth as good as Harry Potter, I'm looking forward to them.

1:06 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

If I didn't know better, I'd begin to think you don't like Heston :)

The first and second books were good, I thought, but the third, the last one I read, was kind of disappointing. You can r get an idea of what they're like by going to Google Books - The Alchemist

1:29 PM  
Anonymous Medieval Shield said...

Yeah I'm very happy to hear those books are good. such a very interesting books. thanks for sharing with us....

3:01 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Thanks for the comment :)

2:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey I'm Taylor I read 4 of the books by I thought they were good I'm the swords didn't the third book describe their properties? Excalibur of ice joyuese of earth durendal of wind and clarent the fourth and is also cursed to turn whatever it cuts to stone including the great archon that's at the en of the book

Ps phones suck for posting this stuff xD

12:50 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Taylor,

Thanks for the comment. I've just been looking at the library for the latest of the books - The Warlock. Hope it's good.

2:10 PM  
Blogger Christian Patterson said...

If you only found 3 books then thats the wrong series bc the one this post is talking about has 5 or 6 books that are equally amazing

3:54 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Yes, I think at the time that I had written this post, I hadn't yet read the whole series, but I have now. It remains one of my favorite series of books :)

9:45 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I have read all of them and they are really good books but i want the short stories the ones of joan of ark and billy the kid but there really hard to find them i cant even find them in a libray or book store it sucks tho plus one of the places they say stone henge in ireand im from there i live in dublin but i wanna see stone henge were they talk about the lay lines there

4:59 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

I've read one of the short stories, the one about Billy the Kid - they have them at the US site.

8:52 PM  

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